again. She is doing a dazzling business on the new nest. And there is Pudd’nhead—I was not expecting to hear any promising thing from Puddnhead again. I think Cheiro is beginning to realize that his reputation is at stake & that he had better begin to hump himself. I hurt a zealous believer in him last night by telling her he was an unreliable man in financial prophecy. I will go & apologize.
I am cabling you to-day “Accept $2000”—for Hadleyburg. Now that’s a decent price, & I am glad we have crowded them into a reasonable degree of commercial propriety at last. All magazine people are like all other people—insane in one detail or another—but the Harper detail is the funniest I know of. Plainly their editorial gospel is this:
New subjects are valuable.
Old subjects are not.
And then at Christmas they forget all that and empty a whole magazine-full of mouldy old moth-eaten poetical tin haloes onto the nation, that they scour & polish & patch up fresh every year—& even the rhymes are hardly changed.
Sam then related how his recent retelling of the Hornet shipwreck was so old that he doubted “a handful of men left alive on the planet” knew about it, and he “could have played it for a brand new discovery on the Harpers themselves.”
It is now 33 years since I copied & published that [Hornet] diary free gratis for nothing,
& before I get through somebody has got to pay for that job. I am not a
patient creditor. When I do a piece of work I want the money—& pretty
reasonably quick, too, or I will sue the whole
dam nation [MTHHR 383].
Note: the “diary” was the combined input of the Ferguson brothers, Samuel (the most text) and Henry, of Stamford Conn., passengers on the ill-fated ship; also of conversations with Samuel F. Hardy, of Chatham Mass., who Sam wrote “was an excellent officer…fine all-around man”; the third mate was John S. Thomas, who Sam characterized as “a very intelligent and a very cool and self-possessed young man” who “kept a very accurate log of his remarkable voyage in his head” [AMT 1: 504].
Sam’s cable to Rogers: “Accept two thousand” [MTP].
Dec. 27. Harpers’ offer received, of $2000 for Hadleyburg: I cabled Mr. Rogers to take it.
Mr. Rogers invested $17,140 for me in October in Federated Steel stock. Has sold it for 22,789.78 & bought in 712 shares of the Common stock at 32 & it has already gone up to 38½ —a profit of $4,628 in 2 weeks.
December 28 Wednesday – In Vienna, Austria, Sam wrote to Richard Watson Gilder.
I get so many commonplace letters that are difficult to spell out & then don’t pay after I’ve got them spelled out, that this present Brief sparkles by contrast, & makes me imagine that if this girl should write you some local sketches in her own tongue & you could get them well translated she might do something interesting for the magazine….Make her do up that little village of hers—that lost village, that mislaid village, that village whose place on the planet God does not know and man couldn’t find on the map with a rake. They are darlings for interest, dear and unspoiled simplicities, those Roumanians, I guess—Jews, gipsies, and all—judging by those I encounter at intervals in Vienna, and I don’t believe they have ever been combed with a capable pen… [MTP: American Art Association catalogs, Jan. 5, 1927, Item 158 paraphrase]. Note: Louisa Wohl is the female referred to, according to the source, but not further identified. Wohl’s Dec. 26 to Sam is not extant.
Sam also wrote to Miss Solomons, thanking her for the “cordial words concerning” his “book”:
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.